The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be without a handful of key players on each side of the football when they take the field on Monday night against the New York Giants. Defensively, Richard Sherman was placed on injured reserve earlier this week, becoming the fourth Bucs cornerback to occupy the list this season. Vita Vea, the team’s massive 347-pound nose tackle, is listed as doubtful with a knee injury.
Offensively, Antonio Brown will miss his fourth consecutive game as he continues to nurse an ankle injury. Despite his limited availability this year, the 33-year-old Brown still ranks third amongst Bucs receivers in receptions (29) and yards (418).
To help counteract the continued absence of Brown, the Bucs have elevated wideout Breshad Perriman from the practice squad ahead of Monday’s kickoff. Perriman will be eligible to play against the Giants, marking the second consecutive week the former first-rounder has gotten the call up for gameday.
Perriman, 28, was the No. 26 overall pick of the Baltimore Ravens back in 2015. His most prolific campaign came in 2019 which was his first stint with Tampa Bay. In 14 games (four starts) the speedster totaled 36 receptions for 645 yards (17.9 average) and six touchdowns.
Rob Gronkowski Set for Return
Perriman won’t be the only pass catcher in Tampa Bay’s aerial attack tasked with picking up the slack in Brown’s absence. A healthy Rob Gronkowski also looks destined to get in on the action.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the veteran tight end is expected to play vs. the Giants barring any pre-game setbacks. Gronkowski has missed five games this season due to numerous injuries (back spasms, cracked ribs and a punctured lung). He was listed on the Bucs’ injury report as questionable for Week 11 but did practice in full on Thursday and Friday — his first such session since originally sustaining his injuries.
On November 19th, Gronkowski told reporters that “the arrow is pointing up to play this week, and hopefully it’s a go.” Head coach Bruce Arians did little to downplay the tight end’s comments, saying Gronowksi has “[looked] better and better.”
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Gronk Gets a Depleted Giants Secondary in His Return
The 32-year-old five-time Pro Bowler has hauled in 16 receptions for 184 yards this season. Gronk’s four touchdowns over his four games are still good enough to tie him for the fifth-most scores amongst all tight ends league-wide.
The Giants’ secondary has been fairly sound against opposing tight ends this season, allowing 5.3 receptions for 51.1 yards and 0.4 touchdowns to the position group on a per-game basis — all of which rank within the top-half of football. However, when the Giants take the field on Monday night they’ll be doing so without one of their key secondary pieces.
Defensive captain Logan Ryan, who leads the team in tackles (72) will miss his first game as a member of the Giants since joining the franchise as a free agent two offseasons ago. Ryan has been ruled out after being placed on the reserve/COVID-19 due to a positive test.
Before Gronkowski followed Brady to the Sunshine State and Joe Judge made his way to East Rutherford, the two spent seven years working alongside one another in New England. Along the way, Gronkowski’s work ethic and overlooked leadership traits earned the respect of the now-Giants head coach:
Yeah, actually, I’ve got a lot of stories. I’m not going to share a lot of them. I think the thing about Rob that kind of goes unnoticed is this guy is really an extremely hard worker and he really does prepare the right way. The way that this guy takes care of his body, the way he prepares on the field. I know there was a lot made earlier this year, someone commented about watching tape. I know Rob is prepared for games, I’ve been in there with him. This guy does study, this guy does prepare, he does work. He’s a great teammate, he’s a great teammate. Everyone’s got their side that they can let their hair down a little bit. I think the thing that people miss on Rob is when he walks in the door how much business it really is. He really comes to work every day. A lot of fun with Rob, a lot of great memories with him. I wish him the best of luck, but we’ve got to compete against him this week.
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